Of indifference in things
1The hypothetical syllogism in itself is a matter of indifference; yet the judgement about it is not indifferent, but is either knowledge, or opinion, or delusion. In like manner, although life is a matter of indifference, the use which you make of it is not a matter of indifference. 2Therefore, when someone tells you, "These things also are indifferent," do not become careless, and when someone exhorts you to be careful, do not become abject and overawed by material things. 3It is good also to know one's own training and capacity, so that where you have had no training you may keep quiet and not be annoyed if some other persons outshine you in those matters. 4For you in your turn will expect to outshine them in syllogisms, and if they are annoyed at that, you will console them by saying, "I have learned this, and you have not." 5So also in a case where some acquired skill is needed, do not seek that which only practice can give, but leave that to those who have acquired the knack, and be content yourself to remain steadfast.
6"Go and salute so-and-so." "I salute him." "How?" "In no abject spirit." "But the door was shut in your face." "Yes, for I have not learned how to crawl in at the window; but when I find the door closed, I must either go away or crawl in at the window." 7"But go and do speak to him." "I do so speak." "In what manner?" "In no abject spirit." 8"But you did not get what you wanted." Surely that was not your business, was it? Nay, it was his. Why, then, lay claim to that which is another's? If you always bear in mind what is your own and what is another's, you will never be disturbed. 9Therefore Chrysippus well says, "As long as the consequences are not clear to me, I cleave ever to what is better adapted to secure those things that are in accordance with nature; for God himself has created me with the faculty of choosing things. 10But if I really knew that it was ordained for me to be ill at this present moment, I would even seek illness: for the foot also, if it had a mind, would seek to be covered with mud."
11For example, why do heads of grain grow.^ Is it net that they may also become dry r But when they become dry, is it not that they may also be harvested? Since they do not grow for themselves alone. 12If, therefore, they had feeling, ought they to pray that they should never at all be harvested? But never to be harvested at all is a curse for heads of grain. 13In like manner I would have you knowthat in the case of men as well it is a curse never to die; it is like never growing ripe, never being harvested. 14But, since we are ourselves those who must both be harvested and also be aware of the very fact that we are being harvested, we are angry on that account For we neither know who we are, nor have we studied what belongs to man, as horsemen study what belongs to horses. 15But Chrysantas, when he was on the point of striking the foe, refrained because he heard the bugle sounding the recall; it seemed so much more profitable to him to do the bidding of his general than to follow his own inclination. 16Yet no one of us is willing, even when necessity calls, to obey her readily, but what we suffer we suffer with fears and groans, and call it "circumstances." What do you mean by "circumstances," man? 17If you call "circumstances" your surroundings, all things are "circumstances"; but if you use the word of hardships, what hardship is involved when that which has come into being is destroyed? 18The instrument of destruction is a sword, or a wheel, or the sea, or a tile, or a tyrant. VVhat concern is it to you by what road you descend to the House of Hades? They are all equal. 19But if you care to hear the truth, the road by which the tyrant sends you is the shorter. No tyrant ever took six months to cut a man's throat, but a fever often takes more than a year. All these things are a mere noise and a vaunting of empty names.
20I run the risk of my life in Caesar's presence." But do I not run a risk by living in Nicopolis, where there are so many earthquakes? And what risk do you yourself take when you cross the Adriatic? Do you not risk your life? 21"But I also risk my opinion at court." Your own opinion? How so? Why, who can compel you to opine anything against your will? But do you mean some other man's opinion? And what kind of risk is it of yours that others should entertain false opinions? 22"But I run the risk of banishment." What is banishment? To be somewhere else than in Rome? "Yes." What then? "Suppose I am sent to Gyara." If it is to your good, you will go if not, you have a place to which you may go instead of Gyara—where he too will go, whether he will or no, who is sending you to Gyara. 23Then why do you go up to Rome as though it were some great thing? It amounts to less than your preparation for it; so that a young man of parts may say, "It was not worth so much to have listened to so many lectures, and to have written so many exercises, and to have sat so long at the side of a little old man, who was not worth very much himself." 24Only remember that distinction which is drawn between what is yours and what is not yours. 25Never lay claim to anything tliat is not your own. A platform and a prison is each a place, the one high, and the other low; but your moral purpose can be kept the same, if you wish to keep it the same, in either place. 26And then we shall be emulating Socrates, when we are able to write paeans in prison. 27But considering what has been our state hitherto, I wonder if we should have endured it, had some one else said to us in prison, "Would you like to have me read you paeans.-" "Why bother me? Do you not know the trouble that I am in? What, is it possible for me in this condition?" In what condition, then? "I am about to die." But will other men be immortal?
1 Compare Stoic. Vet. Fragm. III. 46, frag. 191. Von Arnim thinks that only the last few words are a literal quotation from Chrysippus.
2 That is, if the owner of it found it necessary to step into the mud ; cf. II. 5, 24.
3 Xenophon, Cyropaedeia, IV. 1, 3.
4 i.e., the rack.
5 A popular saying variously ascribed to Anaxagoras, Aristippus, Diogenes, and others.
6 Gyara or Gyaros was a little island east of Attica, used as a place of banishmeut in the early empire. Compare I. 25, 19 f., etc.